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300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
As good as the original
We were all ready to dismiss this as another cash in but we were wrong.
This film is excellent. Right out of the stall it shows it's colours and wears them with pride. This is a direct sequel/ sidequel to 300 and fleshes out the world and battle of the first film brilliantly.
We see a stronger cast and a far more diverse and explored range of characters who all influence the story. As with the first film, men and women are on an equal standing here and arguably the toughest character in the story is Eva Green's warrior commander, who steals the show every time she appears.
A lot of people said that we would miss Leonidas, and we do, but we are given Themistocles, who stands in his own right as a powerful warrior and excellent leader of his troops. While we don't have any of the epic lines that Butler got to roar in the first film, we do have some truly brilliant and awe inspiring moments from Themistocles.
In short, this film is a worthy brother to it's original. It's uses the same visual themes and techniques which root it in the world we know and love, but explores new and different ones at the same time.
Watch this film and enjoy it, you will not be disappointed.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Still a benchmark
I've revisited T2 several times over the years and it never loses any of its strength or power to enthrall and amaze.
The film continues to be a benchmark for action films and in almost every aspect it still rises head and shoulders above the competition. From the in depth characterisation of all the major players to the dynamics rolled out over the course of the film in terms of action, change of pace, feel and ideologies.
The action itself is still as thrilling as ever. Go back and watch the hospital break scene, it's nearly perfect. Sarah's change from soft skinned waitress to formidable soldier is clear as she single handedly brings about her escape from a high security prison hospital.
The terminator character in T2 has never been better or bettered. Here we see a machine that is far more watchable than half the human characters in films today.
T2 was the high note for the series and while the following sequels all had their moments, nothing, not even the original can come close to T2 for all out brilliance.